Nik Silver Efex Pro
Black-and-white always makes an impact. And, as nature photographers, we have a special connection to monochrome images from the legacy of Ansel Adams and the other early landscape photographers whose work helped define photography in America. Nik Silver Efex Pro is one of the most robust tools around for converting your images from color to black-and-white. The software is intuitive and powerful, and it takes advantage of Nik Software’s U Point technology to give you fine control over the process. There are 20 presets for one-click conversions or you can go fully manual. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Nik Software, (888) 284-4085, www.niksoftware.com.
Unified Color HDR Expose
With HDR imaging’s popularity increasing at a meteoric rate, Unified Color has introduced HDR Expose. Using 32-bit floating point technology, the program merges multiple exposures into a single image. You can make adjustments to the color, brightness and contrast in the final image. HDR Expose maintains a full 32-bit working image. It’s available as a stand-alone or a plug-in. Estimated Street Price: $149. Contact: Unified Color, (650) 952-8886, www.unifiedcolor.com.
Adobe Photoshop CS5
The flagship of imaging software got a serious update this year, and it’s loaded with new features. One of the standout tools of Adobe Photoshop CS5 is Content-Aware Fill, which removes any detail or object, examines the surroundings and seamlessly fills in the space left behind. This allows for a sky with parts missing at the top or bottom to be filled in. Refine Edge makes challenging selections possible by precisely detecting and masking tricky edges, such as foliage, while eliminating background color contamination. HDR capabilities are better with advanced tone-mapping control over gamma, exposure and detail, as well as color control over vibrancy and saturation. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.
Some companies divide their software suites into individual products based upon the mission of the program. Tiffen, on the other hand, includes all of its powerful processing capability in one single software package. Dfx is billed as the definitive set of digital optical filters. With about 1,000 filters, there are too many features to list here. In addition to the sorts of color filters that you’d expect, there are filters for black-and-white conversion, as well as wild effects filters. HD video shooters will want to look into the Dfx Post-Production version, which works with full motion. Dfx has plenty of presets, or you can take manual control. Estimated Street Price: $149 (Dfx V2). Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.
Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II
Designed for discriminating photographers, the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II has eight individual ink tanks and it can print on paper up to 13x19 inches. As part of Canon’s professional lineup, the Pixma Pro9000 Mark II incorporates the company’s Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering (FINE) technology, and when used with the appropriate Canon paper, prints are rated for longevity up to 100 years. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
Epson Stylus Pro 3880
With excellent color as well as black-and-white capability, the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is a 16-bit printer that has become a perennial professional favorite. The printer utilizes eight ink cartridges and it takes paper up to 17 inches wide. For black-and-white printing, there are user-selectable black inks that give you on-the-fly control. In color, the 3880 uses Epson’s UltraChrome K3 inks with Vivid Magenta technology for outstanding color fidelity. Estimated Street Price: $1,495. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.